The Case of the missing sandal  –

Created by Bureau of Silly Ideas and Nutkhut

I was shocked, I didn’t expect to find a giant Chappal at a Mela, it reminded me of what my Dad used to say to me as a joke! I followed the show in my Chappals with my grandchildren

Balbinder Kaur Ahlulwalia aged 69 – Sandwell and Birmingham Mela 2018

The Process

The initial premise, through an R&D process, was to create a culturally diverse and significant walkabout act for the wider outdoor, Mela and festival sectors. This first phase was essentially an extended sketch which we plan to develop and present in 2019.

We have had much fun and success over the years, in taking symbolic everyday objects or phrases which resonate with the South Asian community and adding comedic British eccentricity and presenting them in unconventional ways and settings.

Couldn’t pronounce it, didn’t know what it meant but I laughed out loud when the little Pakistani lady next to me explained.  A great way to understand each other and bring together people who wouldn’t normally talk to each other.

Andrew Barnes aged 24, Tunbridge Wells

The Approach

The basic premise – Whilst on holiday, Aunt-ji’s favourite antique sandal goes missing, which results in a bumbling international investigation between two police forces, Inspector Daal and Sergeant Sole.

Chappal’ in Hindi/Punjabi/Urdu translates to sandal and the word is used extensively by communities from all faiths in India & Pakistan – Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Christian. The word is used as a fun reference to refer to: ‘You’ll get the Chappal’ when your mum/dad gets home’ – it has successfully demonstrated the potential to promote diverse work to outdoor festivals and audiences.


Our process in creating walkabout shows, has always been simple – to think about the audiences we serve – to present the familiar in an extraordinary way. The very word ‘Chappal’ brings out a smile – Chappals are the preffered choice of footwear for the community – there are posh Chappals, everyday Chappals and the Chappal you’d always avoid i.e. Mum and Dad’s Chappal!

On first impressions, its easy for this type of work we produce to be overlooked – but once you go beyond the first impressions and become familiar with the context, the meaning and the cultural significance and most importantly when we start to see the joy and delight on the faces of people who understand the wider meaning, the work begins to come alive in a different sort of way. It becomes fun, silly, but deeply meaningful. By being closely connected to audiences that don’t normally attend festivals or theatres or live events, we have a special connection – because once upon a time, not so long ago, we never attended theatres or shows, or recitals, or anything of the sort.

Will it work?

We test all of our shows as an R & D before we unleash our stories out to the public – sometimes we do this through an invited audience, on other occasions, without fanfare or publicity, we will slip a piece of work into a corner of field at a festival  – this gives us an opportunity to see how audiences react, what the show needs and how we can adapt to our surroundings.

The Reach

We’ve spent many years encouraging people of all ages, of all walks of life and largely people who’ve never walked into a theatre or a festival to come along and participate or watch or both! We do this by talking to people in a way they feel comfortable, we speak different languages, we speak in the way our audiences speak and little by little it makes a difference. Not everyone comes, but when they do, they tend to stay or come back – we are proud of our intergenerational and multilingual approach which reflects our staff. We are more interested in who you are, rather than what or where you have studied or what you’ve shows you’ve seen. All we ask for is a sense of humour – you can learn everything else!

The Future

We tested the piece as an R & D –  presented at two diverse festivals; in Tunbridge Wells in Kent and at Sandwell & Birmingham Mela. This short film  was made at the Sandwell/Birmingham Mela and captures the delight and enthusiasm of the R & D which drew audiences in and which has encouraged us to think about the shows future. We plan to develop Chappal and create a full show for 2019.

Chappal - The Case of the Missing Sandal

Chappal from Nutkhut on Vimeo.